All to play for at the three-hour mark
The opening few hours of the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour were – as always – quite a hectic affair. A start in the dark at 5.45 in the morning requires optimal concentration of all drivers, in what could be called frantic racing at times. No wonder then that the safety car was called into action almost immediately.
Almost all of the Intercontinental GT Challenge contenders got through those first skirmishes unscathed, but an incident just after the one-hour mark gave one outsider’s chances a serious blow. On Mountain straight, three Class A cars attempted to pass a Class B Porsche, with the #991 Craft-Bamboo Porsche and the #56 Strakka Racing Mercedes each taking different sides. But at Griffins Bend, the #75 Tristan Vautier-driven SunEnergy1 Racing AMG dove up the inside of Maximilian Buhk aboard the #56. The two cars made contact, pushing Buhk wide, who then made slight contact with the tyre wall, leaving the Strakka AMG with front-left cosmetic and slight steering damage. The car rejoined the race in 38th overall, with race control deciding there would be no action taken over the incident.
The other main incident with an IGTC competitor involved the #18 Bentley Continental, which needed a lengthy gearbox change. At the front the Audi teams were all chasing the leading non-IGTC BMW, but due to the pitstop game it was the #12 Competition Motorsports Porsche that was first of the Intercontinental GT Challenge cars at the three-hour mark. With most of the IGTC cars still on the lead lap, everything is still to play for.